4.1 Strategizing

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4.1 Strategizing

Perhaps the most important question you will have to answer to begin with is this: To what extent should you rewrite the code? Even if at first it looks far too long to replace, rewriting from scratch is an option you should pursue if at all possible for a host of reasons:

  • It allows you to psychologically "own" the code: It's no longer someone else's code; it's yours, because you typed it.

  • You'll be far more familiar with the code, because people remember things much better if they've written them instead of merely having read them.

  • The code may not need to be that long; the original code may have been accidentally or deliberately overelaborated and maybe there's a slim program in there just waiting to be liberated from the adiposity encasing it.

  • You'll be able to create tests incrementally as you write each new function.

  • Perhaps the program started as either a prototype or an application designed to handle a much smaller problem, but it became a victim of its own success and accreted new functionality as a hermit crab accumulates barnacles (the difference being that the crab can still get around). You can recode to fit the new, more complete requirements.

  • Similarly, the program may contain vestigial code that hasn't been used in years. If you rewrite, you'll automatically exclude it without having to hunt it down.

  • You can incorporate the latest technology in the new program. In particular, advanced modules are being created now at a dizzying pace; quite possibly large parts of the original code duplicate functionality that can now be left to the module maintainers.

Remember, it'll almost certainly take longer to figure out the code than you think. Consider whether increasing your estimate of the size of the task changes your mind about whether to rewrite or not.

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